Pete and Abiyoyo
Seeger's giant represents big things in the real world.
Scary giants we live with
Pete Seeger confronted real giants in his day: anti-labor union politics, the "red scare", racist violence, the war in Viet Nam, industrial pollutors. His storysong Abiyoyo offers an empowering narrative for grownups and children, encouraging each of us to step up and confront the scary giants we live with.
The Business of War
Pete began his conversation with Michael about what the giant in his story might represent with the danger U.S. President Eisenhower warned us about when left office in 1960: "military industrial complex". Eisenhower gave a name to how corporate business profits in the defense industry drive us to produce more weapons of war and sell the need to prepare for war and constantly push us towards war. A dangerous man made giant, indeed.
Apartheid and racism
While creating art for their first Abiyoyo picture book, Michael began thinking more about the racist system of Apartheid in South Africa.
The Industrial Complex
By the time they worked on their sequel in the late 1990s Abiyoyo seemed even larger and more pervasive, bigger than the military related industrial complex. Pete called it the "technological establishment." Abiyoyo represents all the industial technology and manufactured products which fill our daily lives: all the factories and production facilities, all the cars and toys and games our society craves, all the construction, drilling and mining equipment that extracts the raw materials to make this stuff.
Abiyoyo threatens our environment with air and water pollution, deforestation, global climate change. With all our communication networks and media outlets, Abiyoyo fills our every waking moment so full of messages to buy more stuff, it's almost imposible for us to stop for a moment and realize what's happening to our lives.
The technological interface of our daily lives has become such a powerful giant, that our personal relationships have changed. Email, texting, social media and internet web sites, all mediate our personal relationships. And all the while our personal profiles are compiled, bought and sold, weaponized, and targeted back at each of us with advertisements pushing us to buy more.
Are you a slave to your smart phone? How can we become the masters of our own technology if we become completely bored without the intense stimulation of news feeds and gaming stats? Does your computer keep you passively watching videos and playing games?
Abiyoyo in politics
Technology silos us with people who share our interests and opinions, but denys an opportunity to discuss important issues with people who have different cultural views. Today's media technology has created a state of hyper-polarized politics where people outside our group are demonized, no dialog or compromise is possible, and no thoughtful discussion of important issues can take place.
Abiyoyo feeds big money into politics, forcing politicians to spend all their time chasing more money and allowing a few super rich people to buy politicians and undermine democratic elections.
We have met Abiyoyo and he is us.
Pete Seeger thinks Abiyoyo seems to be man-made, like Frankenstein. It appears there is a little Abiyoyo in each of us. Hopefully you can learn to keep your cravings in check and think about how your actions effect others.
Remember, Abiyoyo wants more than just to comsume more stuff. Abiyoyo wants to be recognized. He loves to hear that song about himself and singing that song helps him forget that intense hunger he always feels. While singing and dancing, Abiyoyo is freed for a moment from all that craving. The voice inside Abiyoyos brain which constantly bellows "I'm hungry!" fades away just enough for him to experience a moment of joy.
A giant, not a monster.
Pete often reminded Michael that Abiyoyo is not a monster. He’s a giant, but he's more like us than you might want to admit. This giant might even appear to be cute and charming in it's own way, but be careful. In Pete's sequel, Abiyoyo Returns, he says the townspeople learn to LIVE with Abiyoyo, not to LOVE him.
People need to remain wary of the giant Abiyoyo.
Your own story...